Attractive chassis; Very affordable; Comfortable keyboard; Solid performance and graphics
Very short battery life; Narrow viewing angles
The Lenovo IdeaPad S400 offers Windows 8 bargain hunters a sleek, portable design with solid performance, but short battery life.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S400 gives consumers the sleek portability of a thin-and-light notebook without the outrageous price. Starting as low as $455, this 14-inch laptop features an Intel Core i3 processor, USB 3.0 and a 720p webcam, giving you everything you need for light productivity tasks, Web surfing and social networking. The only feature some may miss is a DVD drive (we don't). Find out if this 14-inch, sub-$500 notebook is the right choice for you.
Weighing 3.4 pounds, the 13.2 x 9.4 x 0.86-inch S400 is very light for a 14-inch notebook in this price range. By comparison, the Toshiba Satellite L745, another budget-friendly 14-incher, weighs 4.4 pounds and measures 1.5 inches thick. But that system also has an optical drive.
When we streamed the trailer for "Oz: The Great and Powerful," Mila Kunis' blood-red ensemble popped against the resplendent background of the Emerald City walls and iconic yellow brick road. Viewing angles were rather shallow, however, with color inverting anywhere past 45 degrees. You also need to push the display back farther than we'd like to view content without it washing out.
When we weren't typing, the speakers easily filled our small test room with Elle Varner's rich, warm mezzo-soprano. As we listened to "Sound Proof Room," the playful piano, staccato percussion and crisp cymbals were nice and clear. However, when we began typing, our long sleeves blocked the front of the notebook, muffling the audio.
Not surprisingly, the track sounded best on Dolby's Music preset. Switching to Movie or Game delivered audio that was either dull and muffled or hollow and tinny.
Keyboard and Touchpad
With this notebook, we hit 53 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test. That's slightly below our normal 55 wpm/1 percent error rate.
Lenovo also added its Intelligent Touchpad software to freeze/unfreeze the screen. This gesture came in handy when we wanted to lock the computer without interrupting an ongoing download. Using a downward four-finger swipe, a gray shade with the date and time would drop down over the screen. When we wanted to resume work, we performed an upward swipe.
The bottom edges of the touchpad performed their right- and left-click duties well, provided a satisfying click when pressed.
After watching 15 minutes of "House of Cards" on Netflix, the IdeaPad S400's touchpad measured 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys and the notebook's underside registered 88 and 83 degrees. This is well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S400's third-generation 1.8-GHz Intel Core i3-3217U CPU with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive can handle social networking and productivity tasks. We streamed an episode of "Shin Chan" with six open tabs in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox while running a system scan.
During PCMark 7, the S400 notched 2,161, failing to meet the 2,814 thin-and-light average. However, this score was enough to beat the ASUS Q200 (1.4-GHz Intel Core i3-2365M CPU) and the HP Sleekbook 15z-b000 (1.7-GHz AMD quad-core A8-4555M) scoring 1,567 and 1,469, respectively.
The S400 loaded Windows 8 in a quick 20 seconds. The Q200 and its 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive booted in 0:23. The Sleekbook was first to the finish line with 0:18.
For the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the S400 matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. The S400 completed the task in 8 minutes and 55 seconds, much slower than the 5:52 thin-and-light average. But with glacial scores of 10:12 and 11:29, the 15z and the Q200 made the S400 look like greased lightning.
Powered by an Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip, the Lenovo IdeaPad S400 can run high-definition video and play most casual games. On 3DMark11, the notebook notched 551, below the 739 average. The AMD HD 7500 discrete-class Graphics GPU of the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 only managed 468.
On the "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the S400 scored a playable 30 fps on Good at native resolution (1366 x 768). The Sleekbook 15z mustered 23.5 fps while the Q200 delivered an unplayable 11.5 fps.
Software and Warranty
Third-party options include the Rara music service and the PDF-maker, Nitro Pro 7. There's also Evernote and AccuWeather.com. You'll find Skype, Lenovo Cloud Storage by SugarSync and Microsoft Office 2010, but you need a key to activate the latter.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S400 comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty. See how Lenovo fared in our Best & Worst Brands Report and Tech Support Showdown.
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|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Touchpad Size||4.2 x 2.75 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone/Mic|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Card Slots||2-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||1 year warranty|
|Size||13.2 x 9.4 x 0.86 inches|